José Luis López Velilla, a draftsman “in Indian ink and coated”


Good design is timeless, immortal, eternal. And the same goes for many works of the Aragonese Jose Luis Lopez Velilla (1932-2019), like this blue and white harlequin that has characterized the dyeing of Germans for decades. Its creator was one of those designers who, from the humility of anonymous and daily work, renewed the graphic and advertising language of Spain in the 60s, 70s, 80s… He would have fallen into oblivion if there was not his family donated his archives to the Zaragoza town hall (943 works in all kinds of formats), and its technicians, having cataloged it, now wanted to publicize their work.

Josefina Claveriaspecialist in design and illustration, has been in charge of curating an exhibition to be visited until November 27 at the Palace of Montemuzo.

“He has a huge, huge job, because since he started as a designer, already in the 50s, until the year 2000, he did not stop working a single day of his life”, explains Claveria. With him title of ‘Chinese ink and coated’, the exhibition brings together advertising works, comic strips, brochures, logos, tests and experiments with colors and textures by this “commercial designer” (this is what they were called at the time when they worked, before their work was claimed), which has always looked far beyond our borders.

“He was a man who spent all the money he earned on books. In his library there are works published in France, Italy, Germany, the United States, Japan… allowed him to keep abreast of the latest trends in graphic design internationally and to incorporate into his own works some of the ideas he saw in his pages”.

Posters of the Stadium Casablanca, calendars of the Cafés El Criollo, brochures of the Banco Zaragozano, logos such as the PAR and advertisements for Colchones Relax coexist in the exhibition spaces of the Montemuzo Palace with works in which López Velilla left free rein to his creativity: the posters for the Fiestas del Pilar, the Fair of Samples or the Spring Festivals.

“Except in very special cases, these works were not signed. And he, like many other graphic designers of the 50s, 60s and 70s, did not place much importance on his work. humble people, who did not sign their work, who respected and helped their professional colleagues a lot, perhaps more than at present, and which deserve to be brought out of oblivion – stresses Josefina Clavería. López Velilla, like other Aragonese designers of his generation, worked at the same artistic level as other Madrid and Barcelona designers who are today unanimously respected and much better known”.

Clavería refers to the advertising studies of the time, such as Fontán, where López Velilla would coincide with Miguel Navarro Centelles, or Danis.

The Aragonese designer, in the 50s he remained active, moved from pencil, pen and India ink to computer-aided design and CAD programs. Naturally and without fuss, because he felt that his work needed him.

Josefina Clavería also wanted to present to the public works that López Velilla never published, such as her comic strips, or her experiments in search of effects of colors, shapes and textures, investigations that she incorporated into objects such as the invitation to a harp concert by Nicanor Zabaleta. It was only at the very end of his days that López Velilla allowed himself to be convinced by Josefina Clavería that his work was of interest and could be exhibited. He allowed her into his office to catalog what he jealously guarded and signed some of her works. “He was very humble – Clavería remembers -. He painted some oils, although only for his family, and never thought of exhibiting. But, intimately, I think he thought that, in his own thing, he was an artist. The exhibition proves it.

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